Thanksgiving is our annual opportunity to stuff ourselves, catch up with friends and family, throw a football around and get a jump on holiday shopping. But most of us need a little prodding to stop and literally give thanks -- which, of course, is whole the point of the holiday in the first place.
By most measures, the members of our Board of Directors have reached an extraordinary level of success -- personally, professionally and otherwise. And like most entrepreneurs who have found good fortune, they are refreshingly gracious and appreciative. So as the nation pauses for some turkey, we decided to ask them what they are thankful for, in hopes of reminding all of us to take some time and reflect.
That includes me too. Despite being "The Chairman" of this undeniably unique Board of Directors, I generally do not weigh in with my personal thoughts or opinions on each question I pose to the members. I consider myself more a facilitator who kicks things off. But, in this case, I would be remiss not to mention how thankful I am to work with a talented group like this. Perhaps the best part of my job is fostering this enlightening conversation week after week, and I'm continually blown away by their plainspoken-yet-eloquent insights about entrepreneurship and life. I hope you are too. So to all of them -- and to you, the readers and supporters of AOL Small Business -- I'd like to say thanks.
As for the Board? Some are incredibly thankful for being able to realize their own American Dream -- an opportunity they say cannot be found anywhere else on the globe -- and the loyal, motivated employees who have helped them do it. Most cited friends, family and good health. And as you might have guessed, with a question like this, we didn't hear too much about sales and market share.
Startup Advisory And Venture Lawyer, Gunderson Dettmer LLP
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President, Dyrdek Enterprises
"I'm thankful more than anything for really taking a lot of big risks and finding success, and knowing wholeheartedly that the people I've worked with on every level are really good people and have worked really hard for and with me. I'm thankful for everyone around me -- because I'm naturally lazy."
Co-Founder And CEO, Brooklyn Industries
"I read a book on raising children called "Lessons from a Skinned Knee." The author speaks of sitting around a weekly family meal and each member saying what they are thankful for. We try it sometimes and I always say the same thing -- 'I am thankful to have my family, my husband and my two sons.' I do sometimes pray at night for financial success, and for our employees to work hard and be happy, but this I feel is a little selfish.
"I am also thankful to see art on the weekends, to be able to walk to work, to have coffee in the morning, to come home to two boys reeking havoc in our apartment. I am thankful to work on building product and to hire good people from Craigsist. I am thankful to my husband and to the amazing art he is creating. I am thankful to my mother, who is supportive of everything and takes the kids occasionally. Lastly, I am thankful to snow that will come soon and enable me to ski through the woods with my seven-year-old."
Clint GreenleafFounder And CEO, Greenleaf Book Group
"I'm thankful for the great life I live -- my family, my friends, my company, my country and all the great luck I've had. Life is good!"
Co-Founder And Chief Innovation Officer, UpSpring Baby
"I am thankful for my relationship with my family and God. We sit down almost every night for dinner together and we pray, discuss work successes or issues, the kids' school day, who is doing what chores and what we need to do to have a happy and healthy week. Without my family and God, anything I would do in this life has very little meaning."
Director, Texas Venture Labs at the University of Texas
"Here's what I'm most thankful for -- and I do not mean this to sound the slightest bit corny. Travel anywhere in the world and you realize how lucky you are to be American. You have the luxury of being able to pursue things like business based on your capabilities and ambitions versus your social stature or simple need for daily survival. People die daily in an effort to get here and take a job most of us would never consider. Or they get here, work their entire lives here, and when you ask them what their most memorable accomplishment was, it's seldom their position or offspring, but their gaining U.S. citizenship. Almost anywhere in the world, being lucky enough to be born American is the equivalent of being born into an elite family. The system isn't perfect, but on a relative basis, it's second-to-none. And that's what I am most thankful for."
Founder, The Relentless Foundation And New York Entrepreneur Week
"I am thankful for the opportunity to live, work and find happiness in America -- the greatest country in the world. I am also thankful for every organization whose mission reminds us to never lose sight of the struggles of others around the world and the fortunes we all are blessed with here in this country."
Danielle And Jodie SnyderCo-Founders, DANNIJO
"We're thankful for our family and friends, our health, good food, our ability to make beautiful jewelry and all of our senses!"
Founder And CEO, Nfinity
"Since my father passed away this year, this Thanksgiving is filled with mixed emotions. I am so thankful for the life that he and I had together. All the hunting trips and fishing trips that I got to spend with him growing up. I miss him but am so thankful we had those times. Thankful for my family and that they are all with me here in Atlanta. Thankful that I could be here for my mom during this very uncertain time in her life. I am very blessed, and for that, I give thanks."
Bob ParsonsFounder And CEO, The Go Daddy Group
"I'm thankful for many things. Those that immediately come to mind are family, my spectacular wife, friends, employees, customers, our military -- especially the U.S. Marine Corps -- the USA, my health, the Baltimore Ravens and, of course, motorcycles."
Warren BrownFounder, CakeLove and Love Cafe
"I'm thankful for time with and love from my wife and daughter. They bring me peace."
The original version of this article appeared on AOL Small Business on 11/24/10.